We were up early for our 8.20 crossing thinking we might try and get ahead to the 07.20 as we had on the way out. However, when we made our way the mile or so down the road to the Tunnel check-in, we had to complete the pet check-in first and it was closed. There was a sign for a night check-in which seemed to point to a fenced car park only. There were approximately 10 large Sprinter type van with Romanian or Polish plates sign written as Pet Transport queued up. Clearly these are actually fuelling the dog trade in the UK.
Ourselves and a couple of other single dog owners were at the door when it opened at 7am. A quick scan of microchips and comparison with our AHC and we were on our way again. The lady behind the counter was insistent in telling the couple beside us that pet check in was open 24 hrs and there was a sign to the out of hours service at the check in area. Clearly all 15 people awaiting the opening at 7am had missed the signage. We proceeded into checking and found that this was an automated machine at the barrier based on number plate recognition from your booking. So we are still none the wiser on where we should have gone out of hours.
However, the actual crossing was as smooth, fast and efficient as ever. I got to experience the slightly nerve racking drive of our large motorhome into the train. However, there was a large coach just ahead of us so I could not complain. 30 mins later we were emerging to the daylight of the UK, due to the time difference at only 07:55 am. After a bit of initial adjustment to drive in the left after months of driving on the right we were on our way. We had considered an overnight stop part way back to break the journey, but being a Sunday we had a really clear drive and we were soon entering the A30 for home.
It was great to get back, though we are already planning our next trip in the new year with our saved EU days. Skiing in France and a tour of Morocco are both on the cards, though with parts of Europe going into lockdown again, COVID cases spiking and the border between Spain and Morocco closed, it is very hard to plan too far ahead. We do have plans to swap our motorhome for a smaller 4×4 version in January though to help us get to some of the smaller and more remote places we want to visit, so that is our next task.